Thursday, March 19, 2009

Blackboard and Assessment Redux

I'm guessing that readers interested in more diverse topics than Blackboard testing options will begin to wonder why I fixate on this topic when so very much is to be explored in the new, digital landscape of e-learning. I often wonder the same, but I go where the questions gather. ASU recently implemented the Respondus LockDown Browser for Blackboard and questions are pouring into my mail and phone. Informal summary on usage: "Huh?"

RLB is not intuitive. It's a pain for instructors, first as they figure it out on their side, and then explaining RLB to their students. Plus, no one in the UTO is supporting instruction anymore AND the software is based on fear and distrust of cheating/ sharing/ copying. This is never a good starting point for a conversation with our digital natives. Thanks to Google and Apple, learners expect the technology to work and they believe the Internet is the left (and more reliable) side of their brain. They do not understand, like, or agree with ASU use of RLB. But RLB is a good tool in the right usage. Remind students that it's not about them, but the other guy. (The cheater who hands out answers at the frat party and throws off the curve). Thus, a bit of a difficulty with startup and understanding affordance shouldn't stop us from using it. Let's all simmer down and give it a try. So this post, hopefully the last one on BB tools for awhile, is a quick "RLB made easy."

Here's the skinny on the instructor side:
  • It must be enabled for the course first. (Control Panel/Manage tools/Building Block tool Availability/check RLB)
  • It must also be enabled for each deployed exam (Control Panel/Respondus LockDown Browser under the Course Tools menu)
Then, for the poor, suffering student, each must be able to:
  • Find the ASU site that has the LDB installer for our BB
  • Install on computer (Windows and Mac10.3.9 only)
  • Exit all Internet applications
  • Run RLB, login to BB, take the test, close out RLB
A lot of technical potholes to ensure academic integrity, but there it is. Here's the official, but difficult to find, word from ASU's University Technology Office.
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